Employers often turn to recruitment agencies when they need to take on new staff, but what are the benefits of bringing in a third party? Here’s an overview.
Many companies use recruitment agencies when they are looking to hire new staff, even if they have a good in-house HR department. Sifting applications, interviewing candidates, and negotiating a job offer are all processes that use up time and resources, so handing them over to a third party frees up you and your colleagues to focus on the core business.
Employees are one of a company’s biggest costs, but a strong recruitment policy can turn them into an asset. As the Harvard Business Review (HBR) has pointed out, ‘for many companies, people are the only source of long-term competitive advantage,’ so it makes sense to invest in hiring and retaining the right personnel. HBR has calculated that 80% of employee turnover is due to bad hiring decisions, and 45% of those poor decisions are the result of poor recruitment systems.
An agency like Anne Corder Recruitment can streamline the process by taking much of the work off your hands. They vet CVs, check references, and draw up shortlists of candidates. They can screen applicants for particular characteristics, identifying those whose skills match the profile of your company and filtering out those who are unsuited to your workplace environment.
Using a recruitment agency can also widen the field of potential applicants. Agencies will use their experience to identify the right job boards for your vacancy, and often enjoy more favourable rates than an individual company, particularly on job sites that they use frequently. And they will know how to phrase recruitment adverts to make them as attractive as possible to potential employees.
Recruitment agencies will also have a talent pool of potential candidates on their books, enabling them to identify suitable applicants much faster. This will include ‘passive talent’ – candidates who may not respond to a call for applications, perhaps because they are already working for a competitor, but are worth approaching.
Agencies also have deep experience of selecting and interviewing candidates who will strengthen your existing team. They will use best-practice methods to match the candidates’ skills and expectations with the needs and culture of your company. They can also offer extra services such as personality profiling and psychometric testing to accurately measure candidates’ suitability.
What’s more, if you are looking to fill senior or highly-skilled positions, a specialist recruitment agency may have more knowledge of the available talent in the sector than you can attract by advertising the position openly. Agencies are also a more efficient way to hire non-specialist staff, such as a cook for your office canteen or a security guard.
In addition, if your business relies on seasonal staff or needs extra temporary personnel for a short-term project, an agency can relieve you of the burden of sourcing people who will only be working with your company for a short time. A good agency will be able to supply temporary or seasonal employees in a short time frame, sometimes as little as 24 hours, which is particularly useful if you need rapid cover for sudden absences caused by sickness or last minute holiday leave.
Relationships between employers and recruitment agencies vary widely, depending on how extensively you use their services. Some companies may bring an agency on board to hire a single employee for a flat recruitment fee; others use agencies systematically as part of their hiring strategy.
You should make sure you negotiate a fee structure and agree terms that meet your business’s needs, in order to ensure value for money. And ensure you understand whether the agency’s responsibilities end once they have handed over a shortlist of candidates or do you want them to be involved in interviewing and selection as well?
If you are hiring temporary staff, the agency will pay their wages and deduct PAYE and NI contributions, saving you the inconvenience and time of setting them up in your payroll systems. They will then invoice you for the work undertaken, plus any expenses and agency fees, so your contract should include a breakdown of these costs.
Agencies can also play a valuable role in negotiating salaries. They will be able to advise you on the market rate for the position and manage candidates’ expectations. It is often easier for a third party such as an agency to deal with the difficult process of agreeing a starting salary, particularly if the candidate’s expectations are unrealistically high.
A strong partnership with a recruitment agency can help to grow your business by enabling you to attract a stronger field of candidates when you are hiring. Good agencies will take a pro-active approach, working with you to draw up profiles of the right type of candidate for each vacancy and advising you on the key stages of advertising, vetting, interviewing, and final selection. They will help you write compelling recruitment adverts and ask the questions that identify the most suitable candidates. And they will advise you on what hires you need to make to grow your business, whether it be temporary staff to meet a deadline, seasonal workers, support staff to improve efficiency, or long-term key positions.
Read the article ‘What should employers look for in a recruitment agency’ for more impartial advice and guidance.